Malta has vaccinated 70% of its adult population with at least one Covid-19 shot, becoming the first European Union country to achieve so-called herd immunity, Health Minister Chris Fearne said today.
The tiny Mediterranean island of more than 514,000 has had an average of three new virus cases each day in the past week. Two new cases were reported on Monday.
“Vaccines are being administered at a rate of one every five seconds,” Fearne told a news conference. “42% of the adult population has received two doses.”
Vaccination is currently open to all residents of the densely-populated nation over the age of 16. Fearne said children aged 12 and over would also be inoculated once European medical authorities give the go-ahead.
He also announced that mandatory wearing of masks outdoors would be lifted on July 1 for vaccinated people as long as virus cases remain low. The health authorities had earlier announced that mask-wearing would no longer be necessary on beaches from June 1.
Today, restrictions on gyms and swimming pools were lifted, while the closing time of restaurants was extended from 5pm midnight.
Valetta is also due to introduce a vaccine certificate in the next few days, with authorities planning to use it from July to allow the country’s cultural and entertainment venues to return to normality.
According to the latest data, there are six Covid-19 patients in Malta’s Mater Dei Hospital, with four of those in the ICU. Since the start of the pandemic, Malta has recorded 30,504 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 417 fatalities.
The outbreak in the Mediterranean country appears to have improved amid its vaccine rollout, with fewer than 50 cases reported in each of the past couple of weeks.
However, the small archipelago nation of Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, has emerged as the world’s most vaccinated country for Covid-19.
Despite this, there has been a recent surge in cases, with many new active cases being fully vaccinated, the ABC reported last week.
The outbreak is leading the country to begin reimposing restrictions.